Sen. Dick Durbin: “Politics” partly behind prosecutor pick for Kavanaugh hearing

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, says it’s “naive” to believe that “politics are not part of the equation” after a sex-crimes prosecutor was tapped by Senate Republicans to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says he sexually assaulted her.

“We happen to believe on the Democratic side, we were elected to this committee, we have a responsibility under the Constitution to advise and consent, and asking our questions is part of the decision process. The Republican senators for a variety of  reasons have decided otherwise,” Durbin told “CBS This Morning” in advance of Thursday’s hearing. 

Republicans have hired Rachel Mitchell,  a career prosecutor with decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes, to pose questions to both Kavanaugh and Ford on Thursday.  She comes from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, where she heads the Special Victims Division, which covers sex crimes and family violence. 

While Durbin wouldn’t provide a clear indication on what exactly he will ask Kavanaugh during the hearing, he said Kavanaugh’s behavior as a 17-year old, including boasting about excessive drinking in his yearbook page, is relevant to the allegations against him. 

“Of course it is, because we’re  talking about an incident that may have occurred when he was in high school, so knowing what his high school experience was, what he did, what he said, the lifestyle at that moment in time is totally relevant to whether or not this might have occurred,” said Durbin. 

Asked if he might press Kavanaugh on his sex life during questioning, Durbin said he didn’t plan to ask him about that, but it “certainly is going to be a relevant question” to better understand “whether or not he’s implicated in this or not.”  Durbin added that he plans to zero in on his time in the White House during the Bush administration and his refusal to undergo an additional FBI background check investigation. 

While numerous Democrats in the Senate have said they will not be voting to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court following a committee-wide vote, Dubrin said a “few” senators, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, remain undecided at the moment as they weigh this “personal historic decision.”

“I’ve spoken to most of them and I will tell you they are watching the hearing with the rest of America, they are waiting to see the facts that come out. They’re going to draw their own conclusion about the credibility about Dr. Ford. as well as Judge Kavanaugh,” said Durbin. 

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